The Academy of Youth has successfully concluded its Summer 2011 season in Beit Shema with a festivity celebrating the success of its Ksarnaba project and the graduation of a new class of students of its Computer for Teachers course, TOEFL Preparatory Course and Summer 2011 Youth Academy this past Saturday, the 23rd of October, 2011, in Beit Shema in the Baalbeck-Hermel region.
Attended by students and their parents, LOST’s Director Ramy Lakkis, faculty and staff, Action Aid Denmark representatives, local political figures and community members, the “Youth Lead, We Follow” project final ceremony event in Beit Shema denotes the completion of a five month-long process which included four months of training and workshops on the topics of Conflict Resolution, Civic Participation, Citizenship and Peace and Tolerance and a one month of engagement in community projects in the Baalbeck-Hermel region. Saturday’s program celebrated the conclusion of the summer 2011 project for the Beit Shema branch.
LOST, opened the program with a keynote address welcoming the program participants, recognizing the achievements of program and courses graduates and highlighting the activities and accomplishments of LOST in general and of the Beit Shema branch thereof in particular in the region. Yazbeck found especially noteworthy the Academy’s Ksarnaba project and its anticipated impact on youth in the community. “In this fascinating historic landmark in Ksarnaba our youth have found a way to undertake volunteering projects and to prove themselves capable of participating in the development of their region. They cooperated with relevant municipalities to illuminate the exterior section of the temple and locate signs and trash cans around the site. Also, they undertook a marketing campaign for this landmark by posting video excerpts on social media sites which they benefited greatly from during the academy.” He thanked Action Aid Denmark for their unyielding support of the Academy and in relation to LOST’s upcoming programming announced the organization’s newest course on computer networking titled CISCO Network Associate program commencing on the 19th of November, 2011.
After the keynote address, participants watched a video presentation produced by the participants of the Youth Academy on Ksarnaba’s historic landmark, a Roman temple which ranks among the most important Roman temples in the region. The video presentation is one of Youth Academy’s civic engagement projects designed to draw the attention of the Ministry of Tourism of Lebanon and that of the public at large to this little known yet historically significant historic landmark via a lobbying campaign coupled with a marketing agenda executed through social and traditional media outlets.
The video presentation was followed by a theatrical play and a mime show performed by the academy participants. The purpose of both shows was to translate the key educational tenets of the academy to the audience in an easy to grasp and entertaining manner and allow participants to “live” the learned lessons during the civic education part of the academy on stage and therefore better understand its message.
LOST-Beit Shema’s festivity is the fourth and final graduation ceremony of the Summer 2011 Youth Academy this year after the final ceremonies in Hermel and Ain. LOST-Hermel graduated its class of Youth Academy participants on Friday, the 22nd of October. The branch’s ceremony included a theatrical play addressing the issue of conflict resolution at the community level and ridiculed the established custom of resolving conflicts via violence and arms rather than dialogue. Also, it addressed the women’s rights issue and called for legislative reforms therein as women in the region continue to lack their basic civil rights. The ceremony highlighted the Academy’s civic engagement project in the area and which aimed at raising the local community’s and the national government’s attention to the Brisa Ruins via print material, social media outlets and information technology.
LOST-Ain graduated its class on the 21st of October. Its ceremony included a theatrical play targeting the women’s rights issue and criticized the status quo where women are empowered in the media only but in reality continue to suffer from discrimination and neglect. The academy’s project included an awareness campaign calling for the preservation of Ain’s historic housing sites and Labweh’s Roman Ruins and the historic train station via print material distributed to local schools and associations.
Action Aid Denmark is a major donor of LOST’s Summer 2011 Youth Academy and has been a strategic partner in fulfilling LOST’s mission in the Baalbeck-Hermel region. Thanks to the generous donations from Action Aid, LOST has been able to offer youth in the local communities with civic education and engagement opportunities which are fundamental to leading the way to a stronger, fairer and democratic Lebanon and plant the seeds for a nation built on the principles of democracy and justice. Casper Petersen, a volunteer worker for Action Aid Denmark and one of the program’s attendees, remarked his fondness of the theatrical play and the ingenuity of the program. “Acting is an international language and a great way to express your ideas. It goes beyond language since it targets different senses. Youth seemed to be very engaged and that will facilitate the learning process for them,” Petersen commented.
Planning and execution of the 2012 Youth Academy are ongoing. For information on participation in the academy, please visit LOST’s web site or one of LOST’s locations in Baalbeck, Ain, Beit Shema or Hermel.